1950’s: Building the American Dream

If you’re interested in knowing more about the 1950s in America, you’ll find a decent overview at Ohio History Connect, the Ohio historical society. It’s called “1950s: Building the American Dream.”

The exhibit covers a number of topics ranging from music and popular baby names to polio and McCarthyism,

The Crosley station wagon we looked at earlier this week is part of this installation. There’s also an Airstream camper pulled by a 1957 Chevy Bellaire.

The highlight though is a Lustron home that is staged to represent a nuclear family’s home in central Ohio in the fifties.

Lustron was one of the first prefab homes in the country and manufactured in central Ohio. The company was short lived but some of these homes can still be found around the country.

Visitors are encouraged to take a hands-on approach in this space. You’re invited to look through the closets, open the kitchen cabinets or sit down and watch Ozzie and Harriet on the television in the living room.

They have a number of interesting things here but this was hands down my favorite feature of this museum.

It is a popular destination for school groups. I felt rather smug, getting there early and exiting just after the first class of kids spilled out everywhere.

If you’re interested in seeing the fifties exhibit, don’t drag your feet. It closes at the end of 2020. Learn more here. They also have an exhibit about sports history that I didn’t go near as well as a lot about Ohio’s native peoples and something to represent each of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Remembering Dr. King and the National Civil Rights Museum

Today we celebrate the life, teachings and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If he had not been cut down by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, he would be 91 now. He would have elderly children, grandkids and great grandkids. It’s hard to picture when you consider the timeless images of a young man like the one above.

Here he is with his wife and first child. It brings to mind the famous quote that we all have heard.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

You have to wonder how much different the world and our country might be had he lived longer.

Today I thought we should visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. First of all, Memphis is one of my favorite places because there is music and history and culture and mac and cheese at every turn. Seriously, the abundance of homemade mac and cheese is pretty spectacular.

But it’s also home to this museum that beautifully and skillfully tells the story behind the movement.

Among other things, the museum has preserved the Loraine Motel where Dr. King was murdered. You can see his room and the balcony where he stood when bullets were fired from a boarding house across the street. Incidentally, you can tour that boarding house as well.

Visiting here was a sobering, humbling experience that sort of put a damper on the fun of all that music and food. But friends, I would go back today if given the opportunity and I would highly recommend it to you as well.

Facing history gives us the opportunity to learn from our past, to humanize those people we read about in text books and to hopefully do better tomorrow. And if nothing else, a place like this instills in us a new sense of empathy and understanding that we may not have known on our own.

Want to visit the National Civil Rights Museum? Click here for details. If you wish to ponder the teachings and thoughts of Dr. King, this is a good source for quotes.